Vigene Biosciences Plans Major Expansion in Maryland, Adding up to 245 Jobs
A deep talent pool across Maryland was, in part, behind Vigene Biosciences’ decision to expand its manufacturing footprint in Montgomery County. With its new facility, Vigene intends to add up to 245 additional positions.
Vigene Chief Commercial Officer Jeffrey Hung told BioBuzz he is confident the company will be able to find the appropriate talent in Montgomery County and the surrounding region. He noted there is a deep talent pool in the area and said that played an important role in the company’s decision to expand in the area.
“We are very fond of Maryland and Montgomery County thanks to the deep talent pool here,” Hung said from his Rockville office.
Vigene, a gene therapy development company, said it intends to lease a 52,000 square-foot manufacturing space at 14200 Shady Grove Road that will nearly double the company’s existing manufacturing footprint. The new space is in addition to its existing headquarters, R&D, and manufacturing locations that opened in Rockville last year.
The additional space from the new facility will allow the company to expand its current headcount of 125 by the addition of 245 more employees. The types of jobs Vigene will hire for include biomanufacturing, quality control, quality assurance, and research positions. Additionally, the company will be hiring project managers, proposal writers, and customer service representatives, Hung said.
“We recruit talents who identify with Vigene’s culture and mission,” Hung said, emphasizing that focus on talent strategy.
Zairen Sun, president and chief executive officer of Vigene, said the new facility will allow the company to support its customers as they move beyond clinical development into commercial scale manufacturing. Founded nine years ago, Vigene develops adeno-associated viruses (AAV), lentivirus, retrovirus, adenovirus and plasmid viral vectors for gene delivery.
The company’s mission is to make gene therapy affordable for patients with cancer and serious genetic disorders. In addition to its own development programs, Vigene also provides contract development and manufacturing services to partner companies, such as Rznomics Inc., which is developing gene therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, or Gaithersburg-based Altimmune, Inc. and its single-dose intranasal vaccine candidate for COVID-19. Since its founding, Vigene has partnered with multiple pharmaceutical and biotech companies, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions.
The latest expansion comes a little more than 12 months after the company opened its 71,000 square foot state-of-the-art global headquarters in Rockville. The facility opened last year consists of 10 GMP suites, including GMP viral vector suites and GMP plasmid suites across three campuses. The facility opened in 2002 combines new manufacturing technologies and high-yield production cell lines with the rigorous quality of cGMP and BSL-2, the company said.
The new expansion bolsters the company’s robust capabilities and will allow it to serve a wide range of gene therapy needs, including those companies focused on developing treatments for rare diseases, Hung said.
“In addition to viral vector facility, the expansion also includes GMP production for plasmid DNA, which is part of our growth strategy,” Hung said.
Vigene’s expansion has been supported by a $1,225,000 conditional loan from the Maryland Department of Commerce that is contingent on job creation and capital investment. Additionally, the state has approved a $100,000 Partnership for Workforce Quality training grant, and the company is eligible for several tax credits, including the Job Creation Tax Credit and More Jobs for Marylanders. Montgomery County also approved a $125,000 Economic Development Fund conditional grant contingent on job creation and capital investment.
Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz praised Vigene for its decision to remain in the area. Schulz said the state looks forward to working with Vigene as the company continues to grow and thrive.
“Vigene is at the forefront of developing products for gene and cellular therapy for people around the world battling cancer and other life-threatening disorders, and we are very excited that they are continuing to do that important work right here in Maryland,” Schultz said in a statement.
Tom Hucker, president of the Montgomery County Council, noted Vigene’s decision to open a new facility in the county only strengthened the region’s life sciences ecosystem.
“Vigene’s expansion project shows once again why Montgomery County is a leading life sciences hub. Only Montgomery County has the unique mix of federal agencies, the proximity to our nation’s capital, the highly educated talent and the support that enables these mission-driven companies to achieve extraordinary things,” Hucker said in a statement.
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